With Halloween fast approaching, I decided that this was the year to take the challenge. “What challenge?” you ask. “The 31 Days Of Horror Challenge” I reply, ignoring the fact that you clearly knew this when you clicked on the link for this article.
Just in case you didn’t know what The 31 Days of Horror Challenge is, I have taken it upon myself to watch a horror movie every day during the course of October 2014.
Luckily, I am a horror fan at heart and will watch almost any sub-genre in the field, whether it is psychological, torture p0rn or found footage, all areas hold some intrigue to me. So this is an opportunity for me to see some (hopefully) fun, fantastical and frightening features.
Before I started, I set myself a couple of rules. Everything has to be new. Whilst I would love to revisit some of my favourites, I also want to use this as a way to catch the classic slashers and hidden gems that have escaped me, much like a virgin escapes a serial killer.
Secondly, avoid franchises. It would be easy for me to decide to watch all of the Halloween, Friday The 13th and Hellraiser sequels, but given the sheer number of them that would probably cover the whole month with some to spare. That said, I will allow myself to see one film from each franchise, preferably the earliest example that I have yet to see (e.g. Halloween 2), but no more.
Other than that, I will just try to pick whatever I can find that tickles my fear-fancy and then relay my findings on to you, the dear reader.
Without further ado…..
Day 1 – The ABCs Of Death (2013)
What better way to start a month filled with all kinds of horror, than to watch an anthology?!
As you might guess, The ABCs of Death showcases twenty-six different horror shorts, one for each letter of the alphabet. All of the stories are directed by different people across the globe, each assigned a letter and given free rein as to what the title and story would be.
The trouble with anthologies, especially ones handled by a number of directors and writers, is that they are a mixed bag by their very nature. Here, whilst the likes of “Apocolypse”, “Cycle” and “Libido” show some promise, and could conceivably be developed into full length features, they are undermined by the awful “Fart”, the weird “Hydro-Electic Diffusion” and comical “Quack”.
With a rumoured budget of $5,000 per film, it is no wonder some of the efforts look cheap, but that is not a viable excuse for why the majority are so poorly constructed and miss the horror mark completely. “Klutz”, for example, is a cartoon short in which a woman in a bathroom chases an animated turd around the room, before it finally re-inserts itself back into her, killing her from the inside. Whilst there was some minor ridiculous comical relief to be had from this, it really doesn’t belong on a horror film, and takes you out of the experience altogether.
Overall, The ABCs Of Death has a concept that could work if enough of the shorts are up to scratch, but ultimately they aren’t, and I would be generous if I said I liked 5 here.
Day 2 – Devil’s Due (2014)
The first of what I expect to be a whole heap of found footage movies is Devil’s Due; the 2014 story of a couple honeymooning in Mexico who are drugged by Satanists, before the wife is impregnated by the seed of El Diablo. Just another day in Mexico, hey?
Found footage is a sub-genre that just doesn’t seem to want to die, and each year we are subjected to numerous attempts to revitalise it. Part of the appeal is that, generally speaking, they are cheap to produce and can provide more “jumpy” moments as the viewer is immersed into the action. That being said, even though I am still a proponent of the technique, I could probably count on one hand the number of good examples we have seen in the last 15 years.
Devil’s Due doesn’t make it on to that hand, unfortunately. That’s not to say it’s bad (I have certainly seen much much worse) but it doesn’t offer too much original. One or two of the scenes have some good effects, such as one guy with a camera getting lifted about 50 foot in the air before crashing down on a car, and the acting is ok, but overall we have seen this all before.
What more is there to say? If you like found footage, and have 90 minutes to kill, its watchable, but if you don’t like the sub-genre, this wont change your mind.
Day 3 – The Lost Coast Tapes
Oh looky. Here is the second of that found footage heap! It’s the little known tale of documentary makers venturing into the woods to try to find evidence of Bigfoot.
I’ve always been told that if you have nothing good to say, don’t say anything. But sadly, that adage doesn’t really work when you are writing reviews, so here are the good and the bad.
The good – Set amongst the forest in northern California, the scenery is rather pleasant.
The bad – literally everything else.
Look, I don’t mind when horror films are bad. You can’t please everyone all of the time, and usually even poor examples may have one or two good things to highlight. But The Lost Coast Tapes is just everything that is wrong with this sub-genre.
Firstly, there are no scares. I mean, NONE. There is a scene where one of the camera crew is picked up by an unknown creature, but it is so telegraphed you know it is coming, and you don’t even get a glimpse of what is attacking her. Other than that, the film relies solely on “What was that noise?” moments to build what little tension there is.
Then you have the confusing sub-plot of the director having had mental issues in the past. It is referenced on numerous occasions, but never explained and has no bearing on the main plot. The whole thing is thrown in simply to bulk out the character to little effect. This is by no means the only story thread that is unnecessary, as the above camera crew member goes on to talk about how the creature was trying to protect her from something, but we never find out from what.
Lastly, the final scene is the absolute worst piece of storytelling I have ever witnessed. I don’t usually do this, but I have to tell someone, so if you don’t want to be spoiled, skip to the next paragraph. Ok, still with me? Without any reference or suggestion to it earlier in the film, we discover that Bigfoot is actually an alien. Well kinda. All we know is that the cabin housing the sole survivor is suddenly surrounded by bright lights and he says “I was wrong, it’s not a Bigfoot” before he is sucked out of the room. Man, I feel dumb just saying it, so how on earth these guys even thought it was the perfect ending for their film is beyond me.
In summary, The Lost Coast Tapes is a terrible chapter in cinematic history. And you know what’s worse? I would still rather re-watch this over The ABCs Of Death.
3 down, 28 to go. Next up, Army Of Darkness, Urban Legends 2 and The Haunting In Connecticut 2. Safe travels and wish me luck!